Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Breast of Times, The Worst of Times... A tale of Two Sisters and Cancer

It was the breast of times, it was the worst of times...
That pithy description of my mastectomy was from sister Amy. I told you. She is a hoot. 
Here I am in the picture above being wheeled out to the car just one day after surgery. They really move 'em in and cart them out fast for such a major operation. I feel suprisingly ok.

Amy has been a wonderful caretaker. She takes notes when the doctor speaks to me, and takes over the icky duties I don't think I could endure (like regularly draining and measuring the drainage tube.) She nags me ....gently reminds me...about the breathing exercises to prevent pneumonia.

I took one forth of the dose of painkiller when we got home, and it has been all I needed. The worst part of this whole mastectomy business was probably the anticipation. I had one brief moment of tears when the sympathetic nurse walked in to tell me the surgeon would be in soon. She hugged me, my pity party ended quickly,  and from then on, I felt mostly peace. Or oblivion. Both have their place in the surgical procedure.

This was my first surgery, so I had no idea what to expect. I was terrified of the thought of the anesthesia since I have so many allergies. However, they all assured me I would be fine, described with just the right amount of detail what the surgeon would do, and the last thing I remember was the nurse saying, "Here comes the happy gas..."

They had loaded me up with enough narcotics that I didn't feel horrific pain ever. I only have one drainage tube hanging out me and Amy is in charge of emptying and measuring that. The surgeon was very pleased when he saw the output. He said I would only need a couple of days or so on the tube! Yay!

The surgery went perfectly, and they even pumped up the reconstructive "expander" half way, so I look pretty normal in a loose shirt. The nurses were extraordinary, so kind and sympathetic. The nurse with whom I received the longest stretch of care was named Christy. How appropriate!

I have a tendency to see Christ in everything. But even Amy marveled at this fantastic nurse named after our Savior who was cheering me on the whole first night. Amy read the many Facebook posts from friends and family sending me messages of hope and encouragement. Three of the mamas I work with who I had counseled to choose life over abortion wrote and asked how I was doing. Flowers and boxes of goodies from generous cousins were awaiting my return home. Amy artfully arranged a healthy snack on one of the assorted colorful plastic plates cousin Carol sent, "So you can spend time caring for your sister instead of doing dishes."

All the gifts and cards touched me deeply, but one particularly pulled at my heart. It was from a friend of my sister's. She is enduring a terminal illness, and my sister had requested prayer at the time of her friend's diagnosis. I did pray (I often pray for strangers) but I also sent her a piece of my artwork with an encouraging verse on it. This sweet woman, remembering me now in my time of need sent me a gorgeous scarf she had knitted, and a devotional book.

The nurse hugged me before the operation, reminding me that I was no less of the person I'd always been despite losing a breast. "You are not defined by your body parts."

No, I know that. And even more importantly, while I was losing a part of my individual body, a whole host of the Collective Body of Christ were sharing themselves with me. Ultimately, we all drink of One Spirit. The love and generosity we show one to another is the love of the various parts of the body helping the weaker parts.

I may have lost a body part, but the Body of Christ operated in such a way that the feeling of being loved far outweighed the sense of loss.

Thank you for helping me through this, friends.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. ...

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.


  1. Oh Vicky! I love you! Frankly, I can't believe you are writing/blogging this soon after major surgery...but then again, maybe I shouldn't be surprised! Thank you for letting us peek into your life. Thank you for being transparent. You are such an encouragement to me, and no doubt MANY, MANY others. I always appreciate your God-honoring perspective. Love and hugs. Sheryl C

  2. Vicky, Good going girl! I knew you'd do well. I am happy to hear you only have 1 tube (I had 2) and that you left the following day (I stayed 4 days I think), so you're doing way better than me!!! Enjoy your down time with your sister and our Lord. I am so proud of you!

  3. How I love to see that sweet smile and read your positive words! We expected no less. I love hearing of the encouragement the Lord has sent you along the way -- and I love that you see Christ in everything! We see Him ... In YOU! 🌷🌻💕